How Digital Advertising Helps Medical Marketers Attract More Elderly Patients


If you’re not reaching seniors on digital channels, you’re missing out. Here’s why medical organizations need to include digital advertising in their marketing strategies for people over 50.

There’s no doubt that patient empowerment is on the rise in healthcare. More people than ever use the internet to conduct research and manage their medical care. But medical marketers often make the mistake of believing that “people” means “millennials” when, in fact, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Marketing strategies for seniors generally prioritize traditional channels like TV, print, and radio, and the research supports preserving those channels. But as tech adoption habits shift among people over 50, more opportunities will emerge to engage with seniors and younger baby boomers online. As our population ages, digital marketing will gradually become a valuable and cost-effective way to disseminate health-related information to older demographics.

Millennials: The Old Standby

Without a doubt, millennials dominate usership for digital media platforms. A whopping 96% of Americans aged 18-29 regularly use the internet, and the 30-to-49 demographic isn’t far behind at 93%. Given the near-ubiquity of internet usage and knowledge among people under 50, it follows that they would be the prime demographic for digital ad campaigns.

Moreover, millennials want to be approached online. Roughly 62% of millennials state that they’re more likely to become a customer of a brand if the brand engages them on a social media platform. It’s no surprise, then, that they also have more trust in health-related campaigns than their parents.

Seniors and Digital Engagement

Though many marketers still abide by the prevailing wisdom — that millennials should be their target audience on digital channels — the numbers don’t support that choice. Seniors are increasingly using the internet and engaging with online ads across search and social as well.

Digital permeation among seniors is higher than many people would expect; 63.7% of seniors are active internet users, and 51% use social media — with Facebook being the preferred platform. Surprisingly, Baby Boomers also consume more digital content than any other generation. But most importantly, seniors already feel comfortable turning to the internet for health-related information — in fact, it’s the #1 reason they go online.

Medical marketers have a huge opportunity to engage younger Baby Boomers, who have greater familiarity with the internet and social media. 71% of consumers aged 50-64 regularly seek out health information on the internet, as opposed to 58% of people aged 65 and older.

Connecting Seniors with Medical Marketing Materials

Seniors will soon make up over 20% of the American population as the rest of the 79 million Baby Boomers turn 65. With that demographic shift comes increased spending power — spending for senior medical care could rise from $200 million to nearly $1 trillion by 2024. Most Baby Boomers will suffer from a chronic condition related to obesity, and 60% will experience multiple complications from the disease by 2030.

Medical marketers need to remember that this generation will only grow more empowered on the internet, not less, over time. An omnichannel marketing strategy acknowledges seniors’ preference for traditional channels like television and print while adapting to increased familiarity with search and social media. It’s only a matter of time before medical organizations can reach any audience they want through online platforms, regardless of age.

Medical Marketing Guide: Google Advertising